Reviewed by: Kirsten Palmer—first time reviewer
disobeying parents and lying to get your own way
importance of truth
What is goodness?
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer
It is important for kids to remain active during summer break.
opportunities for summer jobs and student internships
spending summer vacation with best friend
how to have a good father son relationship
complaining about even the smallest predicaments
how to properly handle having a young “crush” on a person of the opposite sex
What is proper behavior at community pools?
Faking that you are drowning is definitely a bad idea. Never do it.
|Featuring:||Steve Zahn … Frank Heffley
Peyton List … Holly Hills
Zachary Gordon … Greg Heffley
Rachael Harris … Susan Heffley
Devon Bostick … Rodrick Heffley
Karan Brar … Chirag Gupta
|Director:||David Bowers—“Flushed Away,” “Astro Boy”|
Fox 2000 Pictures
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.|
Summer is the season many children look forward to most. They don’t have to worry about school, studying, keeping up with homework, and the pressures of trying to impress their peers. In this third film installment, based on the popular series by Jeff Kinney, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) reveals he has the perfect plan to enjoy his summer—as long as he can keep his father Frank (Steve Zahn) from ruining his plans. Unfortunately, his plans include lying and scheming to achieve his two main goals for the summer: to play video games for endless hours and to impress his crush, Holly (Peyton List).
Frank is determined to spend time with his sons, because his father never spent much time with him. However, he doesn’t think he and Greg have anything in common. Greg shares this sentiment, although they do both share a great dislike for a cartoon in the paper that isn’t funny. Frank Heffley stands and watches his neighbor playing in the yard with his sons and wishes he had the same relationship with his three children. While I think it’s admirable that Frank wants a close relationship with his sons, he seems to covet the life his neighbor has and makes choices because that’s what his neighbor is doing, or says Frank should do.
After Greg upsets Frank by playing video games all day, he says there will be no more video games or television for the rest of the summer and then rips out all the plugs and wires. Frank is determined to find something for Greg and he to do together, to bond. They try different activities, but Greg seems to mess up everything they do together. Frank finally signs Greg up for an internship at his office, but Greg lies to his father to get out of the internship, claiming to have gotten a job at the country club. Upon discovering Greg’s deception, Rodrick (Devon Bostick) blackmails Greg into sneaking him in, as well, so he can get closer to Holly’s older sister, Heather (Melissa Roxburgh).
Having failed to get Holly’s whole phone number, Greg tries to find a fun way to spend the summer. Rowley (Robert Capron) invites him to go to a country club with his family. At first, Greg doesn’t really want to go, but when the other option is staying home with his mom and her “Reading Is Fun” club to discuss Little Women, the country club sounds better. (Must insert here that I still read to my children, even my teenagers. They actually enjoy it, and we read all kinds of books together, even classic lit—like Charles Dickens.) Here, he discovers Holly is also a member and tries to impress her (with lies). Time and time again, Greg tries to improve his appearance to others by lying. To avoid activities he doesn’t wish to participate in, he lies.
When his friend Rowley invites him to go on a trip with his family to a beachside amusement park, Greg talks Rowley into going on an intense thrill ride Rowley’s mom has forbidden. After getting busted exiting the forbidden ride (I actually think Rowley’s mother was a little over-protective, but what mama says goes), and after accidentally sending an e-mail complaining about the Jeffersons to everyone on Mr. Jefferson’s contact list and nearly getting Mr. Jefferson arrested, Rowley’s parents don’t want Rowley to bring Greg to the club anymore. No longer a guest, Greg sneaks into the country club to continue his ruse of having a job there. When Greg’s lies come to light, his father does not yell or shout, but tells Greg he’s disappointed. Believing his father is going to send him to a private school that has a reputation for being extremely strict and turning misbehaving teens around, Greg tries to impress his father by trying to do everything right. After a prank gone wrong on a wilderness weekend, we finally hear a good message (the best thing about this movie) from his father. Frank tells Greg we all make mistakes, even us parents, but when we do, we have to be willing to admit them and learn from them, so that we don’t repeat our mistakes. James 5:16—“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
The movie contains no foul language nor mention of God (not even in vain). There is no sex or kissing, or any innuendos of any sexual behavior, but Rodrick did attempt to gain the attention of Heather the lifeguard by faking a drowning. She is totally oblivious, but a man beside the pool notices and rescues Rodrick and proceeds to give him mouth to mouth (while Rodrick cries). As for nudity, while there’s never any seen, there is nudity implied, at times. We are “treated” to the men’s locker room, filled with men in various states of undress, performing many of the expected grooming acts you would expect to find in the locker room. There is also a scene later where Greg is jumping off the high dive to impress Holly, he slips and hits his bottom on the edge of the board before falling into the pool—leaving his swim shorts on the diving board. Nothing is ever shown, though. Bear in mind, a good bit of the movie takes place at the community pool or at a country club pool, so there are many people in swimsuits and bikinis.
This is a film targeted at teens and preteens, so you can expect some immature humor. While watching Manny, Greg is led on a wild chase through the men’s locker rooms, through the shower area, and finally into the area with the urinals, where Manny is found “washing his hands” with a urinal cake. Later in the pool, while trying to play with Manny in the pool, Manny informs Greg that he is peeing (in the pool) and then begins to splash the “peed in” pool water at Greg. There isn’t any major violence, but when Greg is trying to impress Holly on the tennis court, her partner Patty (a character who my son says enjoys torturing Greg) repeatedly serves the tennis ball to Greg and his best friend Rowley… and I bet you can guess where the ball hits the boys again, and again, and again… Later, when Greg nearly gets Rowley’s father arrested, we see the cops bust in the door and throw Mr. Jefferson to the floor. Also, towards the end, at Heather’s sweet 16 party, Rodrick’s band “Loded Diper” is performing Heather’s favorite song in Rodrick’s attempt to secure Heather’s affections. When Rodrick butchers the Justin Bieber song, Heather gets upset and grabs the microphone stand and begins to swing at Rodrick. You may want to be careful with younger kids who may be sensitive to scary stories. One of the boys shares a scary story about a muddy hand (no body attached), and the boys get a little fright when the troop leader jumps at them suddenly. This scary story also leads Greg to attack his father’s hand with a mallet when he’s reaching into the tent trying to open the tent door.
All in all, I am disappointed that Greg is never confronted about his lying. Rowley lied to Greg about not going to the country club because he didn’t want to hurt Greg’s feelings by admitting his parents didn’t want Greg to come with them anymore. Rowley felt miserable, and you can tell he genuinely did not like lying. Greg never seems to feel guilt or remorse for his lying. I kept thinking of John 3:20, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” I also think it is a behavior he’s learned from his father. When the mom, Susan (Rachel Harris), can’t find Manny’s security blanket, known as “tingy” (not sure of the nickname), Frank lies and says he doesn’t know anything about it. Then, when Greg uses a pot roast to coax “tingy” away from the dog, Frank wipes off the drooled-on roast and puts it back in the dish. Greg and Frank don’t touch a bite of the roast, watching Susan, Rodrick and Manny all enjoy the “juicy” roast. Of course, eventually, Greg’s lies about working at the country club are exposed, but nothing ever really happens to him. Greg still doesn’t learn his lesson, so I imagine all following books/movies about Greg will involve lying and never learning it doesn’t pay to lie. This will be a major talking point for parents and their children about honesty. While I have nothing negative to say about the actors and their portrayals of these highly stereotyped characters (the gullible, naivé parents; the self-absorbed, spoiled teenagers), I don’t think I would recommend going to the theater to see this movie, unless your child is a die hard fan of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. If a trip to the movie theater is in order, and your kids say they’re too old for the other mother-approved movies, this wouldn’t be a bad choice—otherwise, I would suggest waiting for the DVD.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.